May 13, 2013
Today’s Monday Morning Movie is actually an audio file…
In the October 2012 issue of SUCCESS Magazine, there was a four page article by yours truly. You’ve been able to read the article online since it was published. (It is the cover article; “Innovate of Die!”)
However, unless you subscribe to the magazine, you will not have heard my 22 minute interview with SUCCESS Magazine’s publisher, Darren Hardy. It was on the CD included with the magazine, but not available anywhere else.
Darren was kind enough to give me permission to post the audio file here.
You have two ways to enjoy this interview:
- Listen to the audio (streaming):
- Download the audio (mp3) (right click to save to your computer)
I will be posting the transcription of this interview sometime soon.
January 11, 2012
Given that we are in a new year, I thought it might be nice to reflect on the past year. So today I want to share with you my favorite blog entries from 2011. I chose my top 10 for three categories: 1)innovation & creativity, 2) general business, and 3) life and happiness. Admittedly, the articles I like most tend to come from the last category as they are more personal in nature.
The articles are not listed in any particular order, but the asterisks do indicate the crème de la crème (in my humble opinion).
And don’t forget, these only represent the entries from 2011. I have been writing since January 2005 (7 years) and have over 500 articles on this blog.
I welcome any and all comments (e.g, if I missed one you liked, or if one should be taken off the list). Enjoy!
TOP 10 INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY ARTICLES
- *** Freedom Can Limit Innovation
- *** My ABC News Interview (and other media)
- *** My Article in Southwest Airlines Magazine
- *** Ask a Different Question, Get a Different Answer
- *** Ideas, Ideas Everywhere…
- Why Brainstorming is Stupid
- What I Learned From an Expired Bottle of Mayo (AMEX OPEN Forum)
- Is Thinking Choking Your Creativity? (AMEX OPEN Forum)
- Stop Asking for Ideas (AMEX OPEN Forum)
- Why Edison Was Wrong (AMEX OPEN Forum)
- *** How to Publish a Book in 2 Weeks (AMEX OPEN Forum)
- *** Before You Can Multiply You Must First Learn to Divide (AMEX OPEN FORUM)
- *** Your Customers Are Cynics (AMEX OPEN Forum)
- *** I Won’t Work for Money
- *** Why You Should Work with People You Don’t Like (AMEX OPEN Forum)
- How to Create a Happy Work Environment (AMEX OPEN Forum)
- Tactics for Captivating Your Audience (AMEX OPEN Forum)
- 7 Strategies for Running Your Business While Pursing Your Passions (AMEX OPEN Forum)
- The Performance Paradox (Idea Connection)
- How I Used Crowdsourcing the Wrong Way And What You Can Learn From It (AMEX OPEN Forum)
TOP 10 LIFE AND HAPPINESS ARTICLES
- *** Balance of Work and Life is a Myth (AMEX OPEN Forum)
- *** How to Embrace and Conquer Pain (AMEX OPEN Forum)
- *** How to Always Be On Time (AMEX OPEN Forum)
- *** When You Sit on the Fence, You Get Splinters in Your Ass! (AMEX OPEN Forum)
- *** How to Be Selfless by Being Self-Centered (AMEX OPEN Forum)
- *** How Losing Personal Attachments Can Help You Realize Ambition (AMEX OPEN Forum)
- *** How to Create Luck in Business and Life (AMEX OPEN Forum)
- The Key to Immediate Happiness (AMEX OPEN Forum)
- Is It OK To Marry Your Work - part 1 (AMEX OPEN Forum)
- Is It OK To Marry Your Work - part 2
August 7, 2009
Last night I had an enlightening conversation with Alph Bingham, the co-founder of InnoCentive from Eli Lilly. This guy is fascinating!
Alph suggested that many people do not like open innovation (external crowd sourcing) because it runs counter to a widely held belief of the R&D community. Researchers often throw around the Edison quote, “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”
Researchers use this quote because it “validates” the iterative development innovation process; the cornerstone of most R&D departments. They have convinced themselves that they learn as much from their failures as they do from their successes. Call it what you want, the 700 attempts were failures.
When some R&D people look at open innovation, they see it as linear rather than iterative: post a challenge and get a solution. This seems inconsistent with their belief in learning from failures.
Alph made the point that in the R&D world, the value of iterative development is overrated.
What if Edison found a solution to the light bulb challenge on the first try? Would that be bad? Would he have continued to find the 700 ways that did not work? Did the 700 failures really add that much value? Can R&D organizations afford to fail 700 times? Not in today’s competitive environment.
Alph suggested that open innovation is a massively parallel process where failures and successes happen at the same time. You post a challenge and you get dozens or hundreds of solutions. Some won’t work. But all you need is one solution that does work. And with open innovation, you only pay only for the solutions that do work. Failures cost you nothing in terms of time and money. With internal iterative development, you pay for the successes and the failures. Do you really learn enough from your failures to justify the extra cost and time involved?
Alph’s perspective is fascinating and I fully agree with him for analytical/deterministic challenges. Creative challenges and their solutions, on the other hand, often can’t be proven correct until they are tried out in the real world. Iterative development – via small and scaling experiments – may still be the best approach for solving less deterministic problems. I call this approach the “build it, try it, fix it” model. Having said that, the iterations could potentially be staged as a series of open innovation challenges that continue to refine concepts until they are market ready. This would be a massively parallel iterative creative development. Very cool.
This got me thinking about a conversation I had with an executive from Chrysler many years ago while I was working at Accenture. I asked him who he felt his biggest competition would be in the future. He pointed at me and said, “You.” Although he was half-joking, it’s true that the role of car manufacturers these days is less about manufacturing and more about integration. The Accentures of the world are masterful at integration.
And maybe this integration skill is the MOST important skill for your organization to have.
As platforms like InnoCentive continue to grow, problem solving of all types –creative and analytical – will be outsourced in a massive parallel way to a huge network for solvers. If we take this to an extreme where all challenges are outsourced via crowdsourcing, the role of a company would only be to integrate these solutions together into a seamless offering.
Although this is easier said than done, this one skill may be critical for the survival of your business…and maybe even the US economy.
China and India have a growing base of highly educated engineers and experts. Eastern European countries and parts of Asia have large creative bases. The world is truly flat. And all of these countries have people who are willing to work for pennies on the dollar.
If we try to beat these countries at their game, we will lose. We could never educate enough people. And even if we could, our workforce would probably not be willing to labor for lower wages.
Integration is the key. Yes it is difficult. And that is good news. While the rest of the world is focused on the trees (the point solutions to specific challenges), we need to become masterful at defining the forest (the strategy, architecture, and integration of the point solutions). This is where value is created. And this is much harder to outsource.
It reminds me of something from my 24/7 Innovation book I wrote back in 2001…
“(As innovators,) we are architects of companies and industries. An architect is not a ‘reengineer.’ To illustrate this point, I often ask clients what is the difference between an optimist, a pessimist, a reengineering consultant, and an architect. The optimist looks at a half filled glass of water and sees it as half-full. The pessimist looks at the same glass and sees it as half-empty. The reengineering consultant sees too much glass. Cut off the top. Downsize. An architect looks at the same glass and asks questions such as ‘Who’s thirsty?’ ‘Why water?’ Or ‘Is there another way to satisfy the thirst?’ It is this questioning, challenging and rethinking that differentiates architects from those who rearrange the deck chairs on The Titanic.”
Find solutions everywhere. Embrace open innovation. And think like an architect. Ask the difficult questions. Assess what matters most. And build a core competency around integrating point solutions.
Remember, we are no longer in the tree business…we are in the forest business.
August 1, 2009
While working on Innovation Personality Poker® over the years, one question has lingered in my mind…
How do we know we are getting the most accurate picture of someone’s personality?
Personality Poker is based on a 75 year old psychological testing technique called a Q-sort.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, in a Q-sort, “a person is given a set of sentences, phrases, or words (usually presented individually on cards) and is asked to use them to describe himself (as he thinks he is or as he would like to be) or someone else.” In some variations, the cards are sorted from most like the individual to least like them.
If you read academic paper about Q-sorts, you will see that the question arises as to whether or not a self-assessment is accurate. Researchers question if other methods of personality testing are more accurate. They posit that there are three testing methods…
- Self-assessment (of the conscious mind)
- Assessment by a friend, family member, or colleague
- Assessment by an unbiased 3rd party who is expert in the Q-sort process
Which method is most effective? It appears that the answer is “all of the above.” All methods are accurate, depending on the situation.
However, there is a 4th method that is not listed above that may prove even more interesting.
Can our unconscious mind be a better predictor of our personality than our conscious mind?
There are very few methods available to answer this question. Fortunately I was introduced to people at Harvard University who developed a tool called “Implicit Association Testing (IAT).”
Harvard’s website gives a very simple introduction to the concept…
“It is well known that people don’t always ‘speak their minds’, and it is suspected that people don’t always ‘know their minds’. Understanding such divergences is important to scientific psychology. This web site presents a method that demonstrates the conscious-unconscious divergences much more convincingly than has been possible with previous methods.”
In short, these tests tell you if your conscious mind (i.e., explicit) is aligned with your unconscious mind (i.e., implicit).
We are about to start work with Harvard that will assess if the conscious mind (tested via the card-based version of Personality Poker) correlates with the results from the unconscious mind (tested via a specially designed Personality Poker IAT).
One of three scenarios will prove to be true:
- In most people, the conscious mind is perfectly aligned with the unconscious mind
- In most people, the conscious mind is not aligned with the unconscious mind
- Alignment between the conscious mind and unconscious mind varies from person to person
If scenario #1 proves to be true, then we will have proven the validity of the Personality Poker at both a conscious and unconscious level.
However, if scenarios #2 or #3 prove to be true, we have a new opportunity…to develop an online IAT-based Personality Poker game that we can make available to the public. In some respects, scenario #3 is most interesting, because it means that in some cases “explicit” personality testing (done via cards, questionnaires, and other diagnostics) is accurate. However in order to get a full picture of one’s personality, “implicit” testing is also required. Only through both types of testing can we get an accurate assessment of one’s total psyche.
In order to better understand Implicit Association Testing, I encourage you to take some of the tests on the Harvard IAT website. This may give you some interesting insights into your own personal biases…some of which you might not want to even admit to yourself.
July 6, 2009
I define innovation as an “organization’s ability to adapt and evolve repeatedly and rapidly to stay one step ahead of the competition.” A culture of innovation, when done right, gives you a competitive edge because it makes you more nimble with an increased ability to sense and respond to change.
A culture of innovation has less to do specifically with new products, new processes, or new ideas. There are of course discrete innovations such as the iPhone or a battery that is powered by viruses (MIT has developed this). These are valuable and necessary in order to create a culture of innovation.
But a culture of innovation is more than new ideas. It needs to be repeatable, predictable, and sustainable. This only happens when you treat innovation like you treat all other capabilities in your business. This means having, amongst other things, a defined process.
An organization’s innovation process must achieve three things. It must:
- focus on the “right” challenges
- find appropriate solutions to those challenges, and
- implement the best solutions.
These translate into three “portfolios” an organization must create:
- A portfolio of challenges
- A portfolio of solutions
- A portfolio of projects
Let’s take each one at a time.
A Portfolio of Challenges
All companies have challenges. They can be technical challenges on how to create a particular chemical compound. They can be marketing challenges on how to best describe your product to increase market share. They can be HR challenges around improving employee engagement.
An organization’s ability to change (i.e., innovate) hinges on its ability to identify and solve challenges. Challenges are sometimes referred to as problems, issues, or opportunities. But at the end of the day, they are all just various forms of challenges. I will use these terms interchangeably here.
Where do you find these challenges? You can find them anywhere – from customers, employees, shareholders, consultants, vendors, competitors, and the list goes on.
Let’s face it, companies have no shortage of challenges.
And guess what, some of the most important challenges to solve are hidden due to organizational blind spots and assumption-making.
The “meta-challenge” for all organizations is to find which challenges, if solved and implemented, will create the greatest value. Given that organizations have limited resources and money, prioritization is critical.
My favorite quote (used many times in this blog) comes from Albert Einstein – “If I had an hour to save the world, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute finding solutions.” Most companies spend 60 minutes of their time finding solutions to problems that just don’t matter.
Therefore, the first step in creating a culture of innovation is to surface, identify, and codify challenges. And then you must become masterful at valuing, prioritizing, and framing these challenges.
Think of your innovation portfolio much like you would handle a financial investment portfolio. You want some safe bets (incremental innovation) and some riskier investments (radical innovation). You also want a variety of innovations ranging from technical challenges to marketing challenges, and service challanges to performance improvement challenges.
Once you have the right challenges to solve, the next step is to find solutions.
A Portfolio of Solutions